Defining the Problem
Our land use can be expressed as the function of our economy, as modified by our social
needs and desires. How well we use the land, and how well we provide the land based
services required for our society and economy reflects the success of our growth
management program. Our society and economy, however, depends upon the availability of
resources. Water is one of Florida's most basic resources. It is basic because it is crucial in
so many ways to so many aspects of Florida. For example, the state and its people depend
upon an adequate supply of high-quality fresh water to meet their current demands and the
demands of the approximately 250,000 new residents who arrive each year. Fresh water
also is crucial if we are to protect habitat for fish and wildlife, preserve the richness of our
estuaries, and maintain the quality of the lakes, rivers and wetlands that are at the core of
Florida's quality of life.
To protect this valuable resource, Florida has developed some of the strongest water-
protection laws in the Nation. However, these laws have been adopted and amended over a
number of years, with little thought to coordination. For example, Florida law now contains
a wide array of state, regional and local planning requirements. However, some of these
requirements are not fully integrated into the state's overall planning framework. This lack
of integration could have serious consequences as local and regional governments plan for
land use largely without considering the implications for the state's water resources.
Because of the importance of water resources for the future of the state, the third
Environmental Land Management Study Committee, in its December 1992 Report, identified
a tie between land and water planning as a significant "missing link" in Florida's growth
management planning process.
The Environmental Land Management Study Committee also identified intergovernmental
coordination as a key element to successful land and water management. The Committee
noted that the local comprehensive plan represents an opportunity for effective integration
of land and water planning, since local comprehensive plans must address water and its
relationship to future land development. However, local governments do not control the
allocation of water. The Department of Environmental Protection and water management
districts control the allocation of water resources--yet there is no clearly defined link
between these decisions and local comprehensive plans.
Florida's comprehensive planning framework calls for plans at all levels of government.
Thus, a large number of governmental entities--ranging from state through regional, then to
local governments--are involved in land and water planning.
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Chapter 163, Florida Statutes, and Rule 9J-5, Florida Administrative Code, do contain
extensive requirements which can provide links between land and water planning at the
local level. Several of the required elements in local comprehensive plans--such as the land
use element, the sanitary sewer, potable water, and natural ground water aquifer recharge
element, the coastal management element, the conservation element, and the
intergovernmental coordination element--have direct implications for land and water
However, most local plans concentrate on providing adequate public facilities for water,
rather than an adequate supply of water to serve the future. This may be ascribed, in part,
to local governments not having adequate data and information as they develop their plans
and make their decisions. Over the past several years, the water management districts and
local governments have become increasingly aware of this problem. The districts' water
management plans will address regional water supply, include a water needs assessment, set
schedules for determining minimum flows and levels in lakes and streams, provide for flood
protection, and provide for management of district control structures, water quality, and
natural systems. The detailed data and information collected by the districts for these plans,
and the conclusions each district reaches, should be made available to local governments as
they go through the evaluation and appraisal review process, and amendment processes for
their local plans. These water management plans are scheduled for completion in
Florida's Water Resources Act, adopted in 1972, created the state's five water management
districts. The act requires the Department of Environmental Protection and the water
management districts to manage, conserve, develop, and provide for the proper use of the
state's surface and ground waters. The districts gather basic water resources data and
information and regulate the use of ground and surface waters. They play a key role in
land and water planning in Florida by preparing Surface Water Improvement and
Management plans, planning for land acquisitions under the Save Our Rivers program, and
developing their district water management plans.
The Legislature also ratified the existing 11 regional planning councils in 1980 with
responsibilities to conduct certain state activities. These councils are composed of members
from local governments and, since 1980, appointees by the Governor. The councils serve as
a data source for the local governments in their region and provide technical assistance to
local governments. The councils may help local governments gather water management
information and acquire grants to implement water management programs. The councils
also must develop strategic regional policy plans to provide guidance to themselves and local
governments for multi-jurisdictional matters, including management of regional bodies of
water and environmental resources of regional importance. These plans must be adopted by
rule and must be consistent with the State Comprehensive Plan. The strategic regional
policy plans are to be phased in by region beginning in March, 1995.
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The Goveror's Land Use and Water Planning Task Force -- Charge
The 1993 Legislature, following a recommendation of the Environmental Land Management
Study Committee, established a Task Force with local, regional, and state government
membership, as well as the private sector, to recommend the appropriate relationship
between water management district plans, the growth management portion of the State
Comprehensive Plan, the strategic regional policy plans, and local government
comprehensive plans. Governor Chiles later added the status and purpose, if any, of the
State Water Use Plan, the State Transportation Plan, and the State Land Development Plan to
this list. In 1994, the Legislature asked the Task Force to consider how state water policy
should be developed and adopted.
The Governor's Land Use and Water Planning Task Force first met in December of 1993,
then monthly around the state, to solicit public participation as well as to see first hand the
variety of land use and water resource plans in the various regions of the state. Four
subcommittees served as forums for detailed discussions and development of
recommendations related to State Issues, Regional Issues, the Role of the Evaluation and
Appraisal Reports process as it relates to land and water planning, and Water Policy.
Focus of Task Force Recommendations
, Recognizing that many pieces of the land planning/water planning are in place, if not yet
implemented or coordinated, the Task Force focused its efforts on several key areas:
1. Strengthening the gathering, interpretation and dissemination of water resources data
to all levels of government.
2. Placing emphasis on the use of this data by local governments.
3. Linking the strategic regional policy plans with the district water management plans
to ensure that important water resources are appropriately considered at a regional
4. Developing better coordination between and integration of the state-level plans and
between state-level plans and regional and local plans.
5. Abolishing unneeded layers of plans.
6. Adding procedures for public participation and accountability.
Taken as a whole, the planning framework established through these recommendations will
allow for the adequate and timely development, interpretation, and dissemination of water
resource data, together with sufficient policy guidance from the state and regions.
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